The Supreme Court of India will examine if doctors can be held liable for medical negligence if they provide services free after an issue arose in a case involving a 12-year-old girl in West Bengal.
The girl died after she was allegedly injected with a wrong drug to control vomiting.
A bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra and PC Pant, was dealing with an appeal against the decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which said the question of medical negligence or compensation doesn't arise since no fees had been paid to the doctor.
The family had earlier approached the Hooghly District Consumer Forum and the State Consumer Disputes Commission to no avail. Mihir Banerjee.
Ishita, the patient was rushed to Dr Abhijit Roy after repeated bouts of vomiting.
Dr Roy apparently asked his helper to administer an injection of Zofer (Ondansetron), an anti-emetic for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and Rantac (Rantidine), an antacid.
Within a few hours, Ishita had loose motions and although the doctor had by then prescribed two other medicines, Imosec-F and Pyrexnon-650, she died. The father filed a complaint of medical negligence against the doctor, seeking Rs.5 lakh by way of compensation.
Senior lawyer MN Krishnamani, appearing for the father, insisted that administration of a wrong drug in this case one clearly meant for cancer patients constituted gross medical negligence.
The district consumer forum dismissed the plea on the ground that the victim was treated for free and hence the case did not come under the purview of Consumer Protection Act. The forum rejected the family's argument that they had paid fees to the doctor and accepted the doctor's stand that he treated all patients in his clinic free.